Fulton's All Star status isn't all luck - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fulton's All Star status isn't all luck

By Ben Horne 01/02/2011 06:31:36 PM Comments (0)

Liam Fulton might seem like the odd man out in the NRL All Stars side but the Wests Tigers forward has worked too hard for his opportunity to be all luck.

The 26-year-old knows he's fortunate to have received a call-up after a groin injury ruled out Tigers team-mate Gareth Ellis and then an ankle problem scratched Chris Heighington, who was next on the list.

All Star selection requires one player from each NRL club to be represented (not including the Australian and New Zealand captains and two coach's choices), meaning Ellis needed to be replaced by another Tiger.

Fulton is the only player in the All Stars side without representative experience, but that doesn't mean the likeable back-rower hasn't earned his place to take on the Indigenous All Stars on February 12 at Skilled Park.

After breaking through as one of the game's promising young players in the Tigers premiership year in 2005, Fulton's progression was tempered when a serious shoulder injury brought his 2006 season to an abrupt end just minutes into round one.

Then in 2009 Fulton selflessly agreed to leave his beloved Tigers and move to English club Huddersfield for a year to alleviate salary cap issues at Wests and reinvigorate his game.

Fulton has experienced the harsh realities of rugby league, and now the wheel has turned to give him the chance on the big stage he deserves.

"That's what happens in rugby league, injuries come and everyone has their fair share, some more than others," Fulton told AAP.

"When opportunities come up you've got to just grab them with both hands and do your best.

"I got lucky with Gareth Ellis and Heighington injured, but you take your chances.

"Playing in the All Stars is something I never thought I'd do, and getting the chance is up there with the best things I've done."

The Greystanes junior was 18th man for City Origin last year, after a strong return to the NRL.

He doesn't believe his place alongside Benji Marshall and Darren Lockyer will necessarily lead to further rep honours, but he's determined to take the experience he gains back to the Tigers as they make another tilt at the title this year.

"I don't expect to be one of those players that makes rep teams all the time but when I get a chance I'll just do my best," he said.

"(All Stars coach) Wayne Bennett is someone everyone respects in the game and to get to know him and play with guys like Darren Lockyer will be something I'll probably remember for the rest of my life.

"Hopefully I can gain a little more experience and it can make me a better player."

His Tigers mentor Tim Sheens has warned him the match will be like an Origin match.

"Sheensy said it probably won't be as tough but it will be right up there with a rep game. I haven't really played any rep games so I'm not too sure what it's going to be like," he said.

"Sheensy talked to me about it this morning and said the All Stars lost last year so Wayne Bennett wouldn't want to lose two times in a row."

Ellis and Heighington should be fit for the Tigers' start to the season.

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